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Met Police deputy commissioner hits out at Government over ‘inaccurate and offensive’ tweet

FILE: Dame Lynne Owens at New Scotland Yard  (Metropolitan Police)
FILE: Dame Lynne Owens at New Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police)

The Met’s deputy commissioner has hit out at the Government over an “inaccurate and offensive” tweet about rape investigations.

Ministers have announced a bill amendment which will require police to only seek victims’ personal records to the extent “absolutely necessary” for the investigation.

The Ministry of Justice said this would stop police making “invasive and unnecessary requests for victims’ personal records, such as therapy notes”.

In a tweet, it said: “This will help ensure vulnerable victims aren’t put off reporting rape for fear that notes could be used against them in court.” An attached graphic said it would end what it called police “fishing expeditions”.

But Dame Lynne Owens, one of the most senior figures in British policing, called the tweet “inaccurate and offensive”.

She said: “The way this tweet is written is inaccurate and offensive, minimising the efforts the majority of police officers make to support victims and comply with the expectations of other parts of the justice system.

“Change was needed but to position in this way undermines public trust.”

Dame Lynne, the former director of the National Crime Agency, called upon Antonia Romeo - the top civil servant at the MoJ - to “reflect” on the tweet which “over-simplifies the policy change.”

She added she was concerned that the presentation of the change could deter victims from coming forward to the police. Claire Waxman, the London Victims’ Commissioner, said she had raised the issue with the MoJ.

The Standard has contacted the Ministry of Justice for comment.

The post was later deleted.

Backing the change announced this week, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “This important reform will end invasive unnecessary requests for therapy notes for rape victims and give them the confidence to seek the help they need earlier, free from the fear that what they share in the process of healing could be weaponised against them.”